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I really enjoy painting cowboy portraits, especially when I can show the cowboy doing what he does every day. (detail) The inspiration for painting Move To Summer Range came when I had the opportunity to ride along with the cowboys from the Shiner Ranch in Lemhi, Idaho.
The weather was cool and a storm threatened, sending cloud shadows racing across the distant foothills. The landscape this time of year was breathtaking. Everything was green and growing. The hills that turn brown and dry in the summer were lush and green in the late spring. The snow hadn’t quite melted from the mountaintops and the grandeur of the scenery was inspiring.
As soon as the grass on the higher benches has grown high enough it’s time to turn the cows out on the open range. I imagine that for the cowboys who have fed cattle hay all winter, that time can’t come too soon!
I was following along behind the herd when suddenly I saw a large group of cows and calves break off from the herd and splash through a shallow creek to get to the grass on the other side. Without missing a beat, this cowboy and his ever-present dog headed after them. Within a few minutes they had the cows turned around and pushed them back to join the herd.
In this painting I wanted to highlight the cowboy, his dog and his well-seasoned sorrel gelding doing their everyday work. Moving cattle is just one of many jobs the cowboy and his horse have to do. There is no hesitation as they go after the cows and bring them back. A lot of times in the spring, cowboys will start new colts and work the cattle with them. But on this ride the cowboy was riding his well broke gelding that already had lots of miles on him. The deep red of the horse’s coat contrasted nicely with the green of the landscape, as did the deep black of the cattle. The distant mountains and dark clouds show the impending storm, and sure enough when I was there, we got soaked with a cold spring rain within the hour.
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